DEARLY DEPARTED TOURS & MUSEUM
Dearly Departed Tours is the authority on the dark side of Hollywood, and owner Scott Michaels “knows where the bodies are buried” (Los Angeles Times).
Dearly Departed Tours opened in 2005, born out of Michaels’s previous tour experience and findadeath.com, his popular web site chronicling – and often skewering – celebrities and their final exits. Since then, the tours evolved and others — including a Charles Manson-themed “Helter Skelter” excursion — were added to meet continuing fascination with celebrity deaths and Hollywood crime.
In addition, Michaels created and hosted E!’s Hollywood Death Trip, and wrote and produced the full-length documentaries Six Degrees of Helter Skelter and Dearly Departed 1 & 2. Michaels has appeared on the NBC Nightly News, Anderson Cooper 360, Access Hollywood, Ghost Adventures, and Anthony Bourdain’s The Layover. He is a question in the Trivial Pursuit board game and also raised funds to place markers on the graves of half-a-dozen forgotten actors, most recently Ken Weatherwax, who portrayed Pugsley Addams of TV’s Addams Family.
Hailing from Detroit and growing up at one of the most deadly intersections there, Michaels cites his mother’s hobby of creating mosaics from the bits of shattered auto glass as the catalyst for his lifetime penchant of collecting “artifacts” from infamous tragic locations. A small part of his morbid walk down memory lane was first displayed in 2012 at Dearly Departed Tours’ first brick-and-mortar location on Sunset Boulevard.
In 2017, Dearly Departed Tours and Artifact Museum moved to its new Hollywood headquarters at 5901 Santa Monica Blvd., along legendary Route 66 and aptly across from historic Hollywood Forever Cemetery. The new space showcases Michaels’s one-of-a-kind collection of celebrity demise memorabilia, including Rock Hudson’s deathbed, a portion of the fireplace from the Sharon Tate murder house, the hotel room door where “Hairspray” movie mom and John Waters muse Divine dropped dead of a heart attack, a tile from the swimming pool where Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones drowned, a painting by serial killer John Wayne Gacy, a piece of the doomed Hindenburg airship, the massive front gates from Jayne Mansfield’s “Pink Palace” estate and his newest acquisition – the sheared-off remains of the Buick Electra in which Mansfield was killed.
Dearly Departed is listed in 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, Time Out calls us “LA’s Most-loved Cultural Institution.” The tour consistently earns high customer ratings on TripAdvisor and Yelp. The Artifact Museum is open to the public daily for an additional charge. Michaels adds new items regularly, because, as he says, “Famous people die every day,” he said.